'Come hell or high water I was going over the finish line' - Cyclist injured after criminal walks out in front of her during race
An Irish based cyclist has told how she fractured her shoulder when a convicted criminal jumped in front of her just 200 metres from the end of a gruelling five-day race.
Despite the horrific crash and crippling injury she suffered Monica Freiband (26) got back on her saddle and managed to complete the An Post Ras na mBan in Kilkenny on Sunday.
Ms Freiband, who is originally from Minnesota, revealed that she holds no ill towards the man who walked out in front of her and has vowed to get back riding once she is fit again.
A well-known criminal, with over 200 previous convictions, was arrested in connection with the incident and subsequently sentenced to two months in prison after pleading guilty to public order offences.
Ms Freiband, who rides with with the Scott-Orwell wheelers, explained that she trained all season for the race.
"It was the goal for the season for the season to complete that race. We had an incredible Ras na mBan for five days up to that finishing day."
Not how I planned on my #rasnamban ending, crashing at 45km/ hr in the final sprint and breaking a shoulder. But rest assured I crossed that finish line! Huge thanks to everyone who helped out in making this years #rasnamban another amazing race! #brokenbutalive #stillcrossedthefinishline #orwellwheelers #rasnamban
She told Independent.ie: "We were just coming to the last sprint, I was 200m from the finish line and I remember seeing him walk out in front of me and just stop. I ran into him and I just went over the handlebars.
"I feel very lucky to be alive."
The Trinity College graduate said her body and bicycle were damaged in the incident but she was determined to complete the race.
“If I had to pick up my bike and run, I was finishing that race,” she said.
“Come hell or high water, one way or another I was going over the finish line."
She said the team masseur shouted at her to "get up". She found the strength to get back on the saddle and managed to locate a replacement wheel for the one that was destroyed in the crash.
"The pain didn't start until I got back on the bike and I reached out and tried to grab the handlebars. At that point it was like 'you're on the bike keep going'."
Incredibly she managed to cross the finish line and a photo of her grimacing while holding her shoulder has already become a symbol of determination for Irish cyclists.
Ms Freiband, who works in international education, revealed that she wasn't put off by the incident.
"I'm already anxious to get back on the bike. I can't wait to do it again next year and hopefully finish stronger."
Gardaí arrested a man in connection with the incident and he later pleaded guilty to two offences under the public order act at a sitting of Kilkenny District Court.
Evan O’Shaughnessy, with an address at Derdimus, Tennypark in Kilkenny, was sentenced to two months in prison over the offence.
O'Shaughnessy has a number of previous convictions. Earlier this year he was fined €99 after he got drunk during a first date with a woman he met online and was arrested for urinating on stationery shelves in a shop.
O'Shaughnessy has been in prison previously and has amassed over 200 prior convictions.